Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis

Demonstrators in Ethiopia hold up photographs of some of those who were killed by ISIL militants. (AP)

Tadias Magazine

Published: Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The despicable ISIL propaganda video that was recently released by terrorists showing the beheading and shooting of at least 30 Ethiopian Christians is the worst in a long series of disturbing violent acts endured by Ethiopian citizens all over the Arab world.

Sadly, today we live in an era where we are accustomed to watching from afar the plight of Ethiopian nationals as they migrate in large numbers every year in search of jobs and better economic opportunities, and are being publicly abused and murdered in foreign lands.

But as we gather this week in our churches, mosques and streets to mourn and honor the victims in Libya, we should also keep in mind those Ethiopians who need our immediate help and protection in South Africa and Yemen.

As Ethiopian American writer and activist Kumera Genet correctly pointed out in a recent interview that he conducted with individuals in the Middle East regarding the migrant issue: “There have been few coordinated efforts by the African Diaspora to directly support migrant workers in the Middle East in three years since Alem Dechasa’s death.” Coincidentally it was three years ago last month that the Alem Dechasa video surfaced in Lebanon showing the 33-year-old Ethiopian domestic worker and a mother of two children being physically abused by her employer outside the Ethiopian embassy in Beirut. The shocking incident took place only days before Alem was officially declared dead “due to suicide.”

“Often lost in the discourse around migrant rights is that there are local efforts to support the migrant worker community,” Kumera said. “I feel this is important context to better understand how individuals living outside of the Middle East can assist in improving the lives of migrants.” He added: “The news that reaches the Diaspora is normally about the tragedies. This is an unsustainable way of engaging in the issue and in the interim between public abuses, there is little real relationship building with potential allies.”

In addition to pushing governments to respond to the root causes that force people to migrate under life-threatening conditions, we urge interested individuals and organizations to launch private, independent initiatives and collaborations with both local and international agencies to tackle the problem in a meaningful way — one that acknowledges not just the tragedies of xenophobia or terrorism but also honestly addresses the lack of adequate economic resources faced by those who choose to make these dangerous journeys by land and sea.

Photos: New York Ethiopians Hold Vigil in Times Square for Victims of ISIL Violence (Tadias)
In Pictures: Washington, D.C Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims in Libya (Tadias)
Vigil Held in Nashville for Ethiopian Christians Killed by ISIS (WSMV-TV Nashville)
Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
In Atlanta Suburb of Clarkston, Georgia Christians, Muslims Honor ISIS Victims (WABE Radio)
Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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